Robert Johnson became Associate #1076 in June, 2016. A native of Minnesota he currently lives in Springfield, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D. C.

Living in the mid-Atlantic area, he does research in that region, which is the home of many of his mother’s ancestors, folks who were mainly English, Scots-Irish, Irish, German and French-Canadian. He makes good use of his proximity to the National Archives. His heart, though, is in the Upper Midwest and his father’s Scandinavian ancestry which is Bob’s area of focus and expertise. He speaks Swedish and does translation work in addition to genealogical research. He has a J. D. degree and is a practicing attorney but will soon be moving back to Minnesota to be a full-time genealogist doing Scandinavian research. His business website is

Bob completed a host of courses before applying for certification: the Boston University Certificate Program; the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy Forensic Genealogy Institute (CAFG FGI); the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed); the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP); and the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Home Study Course. He says the classes had an impact: “I have absolutely made numerous changes in how I present my work products and myself to clients over the course of preparation for acquiring certification.” When asked about the difficulty of preparing a portfolio, Bob replied, “I think the standards and emphasis on rigorous analysis gets you to 90%, but the last 10% is the art of the profession. Feeling sufficient confidence in presenting my work to judges for evaluation made the process seem harder for me.” But, his advice is: “Certainly ensure that you have done everything recommended by BCG, but then just do it—submit your portfolio. I, and many friends and acquaintances, stayed on the clock or in preparation, for far too long. I still would have preferred to wait until my portfolio and I were both perfect, but apparently even today that is at least a few weeks away yet.” Nevertheless, we see he has achieved certification.

Many genealogists have “former lives.” Bob says, “I have worked in law and history fields and both have been significant in helping me to develop analytic and research skills. I also trained as a chef, the skills of which have come in handy at a few society/association meetings where an injection of sugar is just the fix for overworked volunteers.” For him “genealogical research is like a great mystery where I get to act as the detective. I love that it is not easy and that I have to puzzle through new things, about which I have to learn. The combination of solo work backed by a network of supportive colleagues fits my employment temperament exactly.”

Calling himself an eternal optimist, Bob does not use the term “brick wall.” Bringing the standard of “reasonably exhaustive research” to mind, he looks at difficult research problems as projects that simply need more time devoted to them.

There are a few other things we need to know about Bob. “When not searching for ancestors who seem to try and avoid me, I am searching after birds that fly away from my attempts at photographing them, or I am stalking trout that swim away from my well-crafted and gently-cast flies. I am afraid to walk on the gratings on city sidewalks. And when I have the time, I read good books and watch terrible B-Horror films.”

Good luck with your transition to full-time genealogy, Bob, and congratulations!

by Nora Galvin, CG

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.